14 May 2017 - To mark Mother’s Day (14 May) and International Day of Families (15 May), AWARE will launch on 15 May a petition bringing together single parents, their children and supporters in calling for changes to housing policies.
The Singapore’s leading women’s rights and gender equality advocacy group is launching its petition accompanied by a powerful video (“Single Parents Talk Housing”) with six single mothers speaking candidly about the challenges they have faced in obtaining housing.
“Complicated rules that favour married couples leave single-parent families with long waits, frequent house moves, overcrowding, strained family relationships, financial drain, and stress,” said Jolene Tan, Head of Advocacy and Research at AWARE.
“Encouraging them to apply for case-by-case waivers or go to MPs is burdensome and leaves many with unmet needs – it is better for the rules to be clearer and more inclusive from the start, and for HDB to more proactively provide guidance and support.”
For the next six weeks (until 27 June), the petition can be signed online (in English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil), and calls for five key changes to HDB’s policies:
1. Increase the income cap for public rental housing (currently at $1,500) and set it on a per-capita basis.
2. Allow divorced parents with full, split or shared care and control of children to rent public housing or buy subsidised housing immediately after sale of the matrimonial flat, without debarment periods on rental or purchase.
3. Allow unwed mothers to form a family nucleus with their children to apply for HDB housing.
4. Make information about housing eligibility clearer and more accessible.
5. Create a special unit to coordinate services for single parent families and reduce reliance on direct appeals for case-by-case decisions.
AWARE will submit the final list of signatories, together with information on how many are (or have been) single parents or their children, to the Prime Minister, Minister for National Development and Minister for Social & Family Development.
“These are real problems that we face, and getting a house is a very basic need. Yet it’s so difficult to get it,” said Melissa* – a mother going through divorce – in an online video accompanying the launch of the petition.
On 17 May, AWARE will also hold a dialogue session with single parents from diverse backgrounds, to kick off the conversation on housing policies and how they can be more inclusive for these families.
The petition and video build on the findings of AWARE’s in-depth study involving interviews with 55 single mothers, which found that 95% of respondents who sought public housing faced problems like the unrealistic income ceiling, long debarment periods and lack of transparency and clarity in policies.
#asinglelove was first launched in March 2016, and garnered public attention through posters on media channels and commercial districts islandwide. The campaign aims to support and empower single parents, promote more supportive and equitable policies towards single parents and encourage more welcoming and inclusive attitudes towards single parents.
To learn more about #asinglelove, visit www.asinglelove.sg